Some people opt for dinner and a show, but for those visiting Quebec City’s Restaurant Arvi, dinner is the show. Instead of showing up and ordering off of a menu at the table, visitors simply buy a “ticket” online prior to arriving. Each ticket includes a gourmet five-course meal, and guests have the option to specify any dietary restrictions and preferences upon purchasing the ticket. The menu is outlined online, but it acts as a general overview as the chefs often make changes to the courses throughout the night. The actual online menu changes every month or so and reflects the type of produce available each month. Sourcing produce has typically been more challenging during the summer months due to availability, and COVID has created additional challenges.
Restaurant Arvi decided to close their doors even before the closure was mandated nationwide. They wanted to ensure that their customers were safe and comfortable, and felt that the rise of COVID cases made ensuring a safe environment impossible in the early pandemic days. The restaurant was closed one Saturday night in early March for a staff party, and they planned on returning to work Tuesday. On Monday, they made the last-minute decision not to open due to the increased concerns.
As a restaurant that focuses on the dining experience just as much as the food itself, they struggled to adapt to the new takeout and delivery culture that many other restaurants resorted to when dine-in was unavailable. They waited as long as we possibly could before doing takeout, but eventually started takeout after a few months, offering slightly simplified four-course menus. Reservations for the week open on Tuesday, and customers were able to reserve online and book takeout for Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Some weeks all “tickets” sold out quickly and guests had to book a few days in advance, but other weeks they could simply order the day of. They were eventually able to re-open for dine-in on June 18th and created a patio to compensate for their reduced seating.
“We put a patio in place, but we much prefer having people inside our restaurant. It feels like they’re having a meal at our home when they’re inside.” Explains Sous-Chef Guillaume Ethier. “It’s harder to take care of guests on the patio, and the environment is less intimate.”
Despite the hesitation to dine-out, Restaurant Arvi has been fully booked every night since re-opening for dine-in. The restaurant won an award just before the pandemic, which created quite the buzz and encouraged many Quebec City residents to visit once it re-opened. The sales they’ve been able to generate are directly correlated to the number of seats they can offer in-house. The patio has allowed them to have more guests than they would under regular circumstances, but they’re concerned about the quickly-approaching fall and winter when the patio will no longer be an option.
Restaurant Arvi hopes to continue providing an unparalleled dining experience to those living in and visiting the Quebec City area. Despite the uncertainty of this pandemic, they plan to adopt new measures and innovate to ensure that they can stay open and do what they do best: serve gourmet, unique food.
For more information on Restaurant Arvi, please visit https://restaurantarvi.ca/.